Assessment of food safety compliance to federal, state and local regulations within NYS capital region farmers markets: An investigation of current facilitators, barriers, and future opportunities to increase food safety, 2020

Patricia Miller of the State University of New York at Albany writes in her Doctor of Public Health dissertation that within the United States there are over 8,000 farmers markets, that sell directly to consumers. New York State has the second-largest number of markets, at 637, with the capital region host to 114 markets.

Over the years the selections of offerings have grown to include not only produce but ready-to-eat foods, eggs, dairy products, crafts, beer, and wine. The increasing popularity of farmers markets coupled with inadequate regulatory oversight of these markets, can contribute to incidences of foodborne illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control identified 95 foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States potentially associated with fairs, festivals, and temporary mobile services from 1988-2007, which resulted in almost 4,000 illnesses, including 144 hospitalizations (Centers for Disease Control, 2008). Of these markets, six are held year-round.

This research undertook a needs assessment to identify gaps in food safety as it related to compliance with regulations required by federal, state, and local government by farmers markets and their vendors. This was a multimethod study utilizing content of each farmers markets rules compared to regulations, direct observations of vendor behaviors, and data collection through observation of physical characteristics of the markets, and interviews with market managers. Market compliance was measured by analysis of market rules to key rules and regulations required through the Federal Food Code, and by the New York State Temporary Food Service Establishments Regulations. These rules included adherence to minimal cooking of foods, maintaining and monitoring temperatures of foods, hand hygiene requirements, prevention of cross-contamination, and storage of food. These regulations address transportation of food to the markets, into the markets, display of food, and serving of food.

Data collection through observation of each markets was done to assess market facilities, and direct observations were made of vendors during market operations on multiple occasions. Results showed many markets lacked clearly defined rules, and resources, including handwashing stations, as regulated, were not in evidence. Observational data collection showed that these markets did not comply with the New York State Department of Health Temporary Establishments Regulations and that the vendor behaviors did not meet food code requirements. In addition, this study looked to identify facilitators and barriers to safe food handling behaviors. A lack of handwashing facilities and thermometers were found to be barriers to safe food handling at these markets.

While implementing more rules or changing policies may improve these behaviors, enforcement of the required rules would be a better method to decrease these barriers. Inspection by local authorities may improve compliance to regulations as may providing resources to the vendors.

The 3 Ws: A public health Thanksgiving

Friend of the barfblog, Michéle Samarya-Timm, MA, HO, MCHES, REHS, health educator and registered environmental health specialist at the Somerset County Department of Health in Somerville, New Jersey, has graciously made time from the public health front lines to continue her U.S. Thanksgiving tradition of contributing to the barfblog.

It’s the 10th month  of COVID-19 response for public health professionals in the U.S.

That’s 46 straight weeks (and counting) of conducting public testing clinics, providing COVID-19 information and test results, contact tracing, and educating on prevention.    

 In addition, public health has been proactive with regular disease prevention work, holding COVID-safe flu clinics, providing guidance to food establishments, schools and workplaces, and planning for the herculean task of vaccinating 70% of the population (twice) for COVID-19 as soon as the vaccine is delivered. 

 We do what we’ve been trained to do, and what needs to be done to protect our residents. It’s the prime directive of public health: prevent disease and save lives.

Be thankful, as I am, for their dedication and efforts as you pass the turkey…and pass the hand sanitizer.

This year, in addition to food safe practices to assure a disease-free meal, remember to add 3 W’s:

  • Watch your distance (keep 6 feet apart)
  • Wear a mask 
  • Wash your hands 

 Be safe, my friends.  And THANKS for all you do.

Proper handwashing requires proper tools: Soap vs. COVID-19

I don’t like the militarization of terms to discuss foodborne or other bugs. The bugs are there, be cool, take steps to reduce risk.

UNSW academics have released a 3D visualisation of soap destroying the coronavirus to remind Australians that simply washing your hands can help stem the pandemic.

(There is nothing simple about handwashing when almost all public restrooms contain blow-dryers instead of paper towels and have controlled water flow rates that would dislodge nothing. It is the friction that helps reduce microbial loads on hands, which is why hospitals are over-flowing with paper towel dispensers.)

Soap counts too.

There’s too much self-aggrandizing in the PR piece, below, but it has pretty pictures.

This scientifically accurate simulation — a collaboration between UNSW Art & Design and UNSW Science — shows soap acting on contaminated skin covered with tiny coronavirus particles.

“With the threat of the second wave upon us, simple hygiene is something everyone can do to prevent the spread of the virus,” UNSW Science’s Professor Pall Thordarson said.

“Soap can destroy the virus on your skin.”

The simulation uses a cinematic approach and evocative animation to deliver a message that’s accessible to adults and children.

“One of the very few pieces of good news about this virus is that it’s actually very fragile — if you wash your hands with soap, the whole virus basically collapses like a house of cards,” Professor Thordarson said.

The simulation was created by UNSW’s 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab, which explores arts- and design-led visualisations of complex scientific and biomedical data. The Lab creates immersive platforms that play out scientific phenomena, such as drug interactions with cancerous cells or interactive personalised scans of strokes to help patients understand their treatment.

“3D visualisations make complex science comprehensible. The creative industries are in a unique position to be able to offer these kinds of innovative educational simulations,” said Associate Professor John McGhee who created the simulation with UNSW 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab post-doctoral researcher Dr Andrew Lilja.

Hundreds of drones take to the South Korea sky to send message of social distancing and handwashing

South Korea has done everything big on coronavirus.

Now, over 300 drones have taken to the sky in South Korea to remind people of the importance of practicing social distancing and handwashing.

This resulted in a spectacular display over the Han River on Saturday.

The drones formed a white face mask and red circles were used to symbolize coronavirus particles, which has claimed the lives of almost 300 people in the country.

Messages of support and images of medical workers also appeared in the 10-minute display that was organized by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport.

One of the displays said “ThanksToChallenge”, which made reference to a South Korean social media campaign that was created to show thanks to healthcare workers in the county.

There were no crowds watching the event because it was not advertised ahead of time.

The government captioned a video of the event on YouTube: “Thank you for the efforts of the people and medical staff.

“We express our gratitude and respect to all who suffer from Covid-19.”

This display comes after South Korea was praised for its response to the virus, quickly containing the initial outbreak, although the country has experienced sporadic cases since – caused by small gatherings and door-to-door sales practices.

According to the Mirror, South Korea has reported just 68 cases of coronavirus today and 33 of them are imported.

However, the country is preparing itself for a potential second wave of infections and this drone display was undoubtedly a timely reminder to its citizens that they are not out of the woods yet.

Vietnam too.

 

Me and Chapman, we love the covert studies (for science)

Hand hygiene is one of the most effective method for preventing cross-contamination. Food handlers have a major role in the prevention of foodborne illness during food production1 , consequently food handler hand hygiene failures are frequently reported to be implicated in foodborne illness2 . Although informative, food safety cognitions are not indicative of actual practices and may be subject to biases3 , therefore food handlers may demonstrate awareness of food safety, however may fail to translate knowledge into safe practices4 .

For this reason observational data are superior to survey data5 . However, during direct observations, researcher presence can increase subject reactivity6 , whereas covert video observation provide a more comprehensive analysis over a sustained period, where familiarity reduces reactivity bias7 . Previous video observation research have assessed food handler behaviours at retail/catering settings8-10 , however, this method has been under-utilised in food manufacturing business environments. Covert observation may allow the comparison of practices in different areas of manufacturing over the same period of time.

A comparison of hand hygiene compliance in high-care and high-risk areas in a Welsh food manufacturing business using covert observation

Cardiff Metropolitan University

Ellen Evans, Catherine Bunston and Elizabeth Redmond

https://www.metcaerdydd.ac.uk/health/zero2five/research/Documents/Hand%20hygiene%20two%20areas%20EE_04_04_2019%20Final.pdf

Proper handwashing requires proper tools: Alton Brown’s handwashing tutorial is funny, informative, and a little bit gory

Everyone says wash your hands in the wake of Coronavirus.

But proper handwashing requires proper tools.

I go to my local grocery store (when I’m let out of the house, and usually only with a carerer) and the bathroom for the shops has these stupid Dysan machines that just blow microbes around.

I got my job at Kansas State in 2005 because their handwashing thingies just blew stuff around, I wrote something up, they hired me, I did enough work to become full professor, and then they fired me.

Whatever.

Every time there is some weird outbreak at a local school, the first thing I do is check out the bathrooms – that’s right, I’m the creepy guy watching you kids wash their hands – and invariably they have no soap and no paper towel (the later is required for the friction).

Even the 20 seconds is probably overstating things: Can you imagine working in food service and having to wash your hands for 20-30 seconds every time you did something food safety risky?

You can keep imagining because you wouldn’t be working long.

Yes, wash your hands, my daughters have all had this engrained in them, but keep the messaging on a level people might actually follow.

Good Eats host Alton Brown is here to explain it in a 4-plus minute video that illustrates why soap is a solid line of defense against viruses, that demonstrates how to wash every square inch of your mitts, and that wraps up with one of the most surprising endings you’ll see outside of an M. Night Shyamalan flick.

“I’m happy that someone finally wants to talk about handwashing,” he says within the first minute. “I’ve been wanting to do a handwashing video for twenty years, but everybody was like ‘Oh no, hygiene’s boring, do cheese pulls.’ What do you think is going to save us now? Cheese pulls, nanorobots, lasers, hot yoga? I don’t think so.”

We did one 20 years ago.

So yeah, what might give us a shot at getting through… all of this is a bar of soap. (Regular soap, Brown emphasizes, not hand sanitizer. “Not the stuff you’ve been fighting over in drugstore parking lots,” he adds.)

Brown says that he actually travels with his own bar of soap, carrying it with him in a small tin. He also keeps his own zip-sealed bag of paper towels handy, to ensure that he can dry his hands properly too. (So take that, Dyson Airblade!) His handwashing technique takes a full 30 seconds to complete, and he adds a few ticks to the 20-second-minimum wash that has previously been suggested. He goes through a number of steps, for the front and backs of the hands, in-between the fingers, and under the nails. There are a lot of five-counts, but it works. And if that fails to do the job? Well, that’s where Brown’s sense of humor takes a darker turn.

I carry a tip-sensitive digital thermometer wherever I go.

Before Corona virus: Handwashing works, but requires proper tools (soap, vigorous waterflow and friction, paper towels)

The risk for a global transmission of flu‐type viruses is strengthened by the physical contact between humans and accelerated through individual mobility patterns. The Air Transportation System plays a critical role in such transmissions because it is responsible for fast and long‐range human travel, while its building components—the airports—are crowded, confined areas with usually poor hygiene.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) consider hand hygiene as the most efficient and cost‐effective way to limit disease propagation. Results from clinical studies reveal the effect of hand washing on individual transmissibility of infectious diseases. However, its potential as a mitigation strategy against the global risk for a pandemic has not been fully explored. Here, we use epidemiological modeling and data‐driven simulations to elucidate the role of individual engagement with hand hygiene inside airports in conjunction with human travel on the global spread of epidemics.

We find that, by increasing travelers engagement with hand hygiene at all airports, a potential pandemic can be inhibited by 24% to 69%. In addition, we identify 10 airports at the core of a cost‐optimal deployment of the hand‐washing mitigation strategy. Increasing hand‐washing rate at only those 10 influential locations, the risk of a pandemic could potentially drop by up to 37%. Our results provide evidence for the effectiveness of hand hygiene in airports on the global spread of infections that could shape the way public‐health policy is implemented with respect to the overall objective of mitigating potential population health crises.

Hand-hygiene mitigation strategies against global disease spreading through the air transportation network

Risk Analysis

Christos Nicolaides, Demetris Avraam, Luis Cueto‐Felgueroso, Marta C. González, Ruben Juanes

https://doi.org/10.1111/risa.13438

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/risa.13438#.XkIFeNVlfWw.twitter

Ethanol may not be so good: Better hand hygiene for flu prevention

The American Society for Microbiology says rubbing hands with ethanol-based sanitizers should provide a formidable defense against infection from flu viruses, which can thrive and spread in saliva and mucus. But findings published this week in mSphere challenge that notion — and suggest that there’s room for improvement in this approach to hand hygiene.

The influenza A virus (IAV) remains infectious in wet mucus from infected patients, even after being exposed to an ethanol-based disinfectant (EBD) for two full minutes, report researchers at Kyoto Profectural University of Medicine, in Japan. Fully deactivating the virus, they found, required nearly four minutes of exposure to the EBD.

The secret to the viral survival was the thick consistency of sputum, the researchers found. The substance’s thick hydrogel structure kept the ethanol from reaching and deactivating the IAV. 

“The physical properties of mucus protect the virus from inactivation,” said physician and molecular gastroenterologist Ryohei Hirose, Ph.D, MD., who led the study with Takaaki Nakaya, PhD, an infectious disease researcher at the same school. “Until the mucus has completely dried, infectious IAV can remain on the hands and fingers, even after appropriate antiseptic hand rubbing.

The study suggests that a splash of hand sanitizer, quickly applied, isn’t sufficient to stop IAV. Health care providers should be particularly cautious: If they don’t adequately inactivate the virus between patients, they could enable its spread, Hirose said. 

The researchers first studied the physical properties of mucus and found — as they predicted — that ethanol spreads more slowly through the viscous substance than it does through saline. Then, in a clinical component, they analyzed sputum that had been collected from IAV-infected patients and dabbed on human fingers. (The goal, said Hirose, was to simulate situations in which medical staff could transmit the virus.) After two minutes of exposure to EBD, the IAV virus remained active in the mucus on the fingertips. By four minutes, however, the virus had been deactivated.

Previous studies have suggested that ethanol-based disinfectants, or EBDs, are effective against IAV. The new work challenges those conclusions. Hirose suspects he knows why: Most studies on EBDs test the disinfectants on mucus that has already dried. When he and his colleagues repeated their experiments using fully dried mucus, they found that hand rubbing inactivated the virus within 30 seconds. In addition, the fingertip test used by Hirose and his colleagues may not exactly replicate the effects of hand rubbing, which through convection might be more effective at spreading the EBD.
 For flu prevention, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization recommend hand hygiene practices that include using EBDs for 15-30 seconds. That’s not enough rubbing to prevent IAV transmission, said Hirose. 
 The study wasn’t all bad news: The researchers did identify a hand hygiene strategy that works, also sanctioned by the WHO and CDC. It’s simple: Wash hands, don’t just rub them. Washing hands with an antiseptic soap, they found, deactivated the virus within 30 seconds, regardless of whether the mucus remained wet or had dried. 

Food Safety Talk 176: Bug Book

The show opens with a discussion about privacy, whether you should cover the microphone on your computer, or how you can scare your kids using Alexa. The guys talked briefly about what they’re watching, Ben’s trip to Athens Georgia, and celebrity feet. From there the show moves into listener feedback talking about the safety of eating Canadian seaweed. Listener feedback makes a interesting segue into failure, and the things we can learn from it. The show returns to listener feedback with a discussion about citrus safety and infused water. For some reason Don wants to talk about smoke detectors, before returning again to listener feedback and “Contamination Corner”, and ways to learn about stuff you don’t know about (like filibusters). Ben and Don talk about an interview that Don did for Cooking Light, before Don wants to talk about fixing his broken software. Ben ends the show with a long discussion regarding safe cooking directions for frozen vegetables, and why no one can agree.

This episode is available at foodsafetytalk.com or on iTunes.

 

Show notes so you can follow along at home are below: